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Shop Local: 10 Reasons to Shop Small Businesses When You Travel 

When we travel, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of tourist attractions and chain stores. But have you ever stopped to think about the small businesses that make up the heart of a city? Shopping small not only supports local economies and communities, but it also adds a unique touch to your travel experience. From discovering handmade souvenirs to savoring artisanal food, there are countless reasons to shop small when you travel. Let’s explore 10 reasons why you should prioritize small businesses on your next trip and how it can make your travels even more memorable.

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Why Supporting Small Businesses is Key to Sustainable Travel

As someone who grew up in a small family business, I know firsthand how important it is to support local small businesses, especially when traveling. My family has a small grocery store just outside of Atlanta, and we have relied on the support of our community for over three decades to keep our business going. I have seen how much hard work and dedication it takes to keep a business running, and I believe that supporting small businesses is more important now than ever before. 

Traveling is a fantastic way to experience new cultures, try new foods, and see new sights. And what better way to do that than by supporting small businesses? By shopping at local shops and restaurants, you’re not only getting a unique and authentic experience, but you’re also helping to support the local economy. Small businesses are the backbone of many communities, and by supporting them, you’re helping to keep those communities thriving. 

So speaking from personal experience, I hope that you consider these 10 reasons why supporting local small businesses is so important when you travel: 

  1. It’s a more personal experience – The interactions with the owners and employees can provide a level of authenticity and personalization that larger businesses may lack. When I travel, I love to chat with the locals and get recommendations on the best places to eat, shop and explore. Small businesses offer a chance to make those connections and create a more memorable trip. 
  2. It creates jobs and boosts the local economy – By choosing to spend your money at a small business, you are investing in the community and helping to create jobs for local families. It’s a win-win situation: you get to enjoy unique experiences and products while also contributing to the growth of the local economy. 
  3. It helps preserve the local culture – Small businesses often sell products that are unique to the region, helping to preserve local culture and traditions. When you support these businesses, you are also helping to keep the community’s heritage alive. In my experience, small businesses often have a deep connection to their community’s history and traditions, making the shopping experience all the more enriching. 
  4. It’s sustainable and better for the environment – Local businesses often source their products locally, reducing the carbon footprint associated with shipping products from far away. This sustainable practice is better for the environment and can help reduce the negative impact of travel on the planet. 
  5. It encourages innovation – Owners are often willing to take risks and try new things, which can lead to unique and exciting products and experiences. As travelers, we are always looking for something new and exciting to explore, and small businesses can provide just that. 
  6. It supports entrepreneurship – By encouraging people to start their own businesses, you are helping to create a more vibrant and diverse community. Entrepreneurship can lead to job creation, new products and services, and overall economic growth. 
  7. It indirectly supports local causes – Small businesses are often more involved in the local community, sponsoring events and donating to local causes. By supporting them, you are also supporting the community as a whole. And this is certainly true for my family’s small business! 
  8. It creates a sense of community – Small businesses are often the heart of a community because they serve as a gathering place for locals and tourists alike, creating a welcoming and friendly environment.  
  9. It provides better customer service – Small business owners often take pride in their work and are more invested in providing excellent customer service. Often going above and beyond to ensure that their customers have a positive experience. This level of customer service can make all the difference in creating a memorable travel experience. 
  10. It supports diversity – Small businesses are often owned by people from diverse backgrounds, providing a unique perspective and representation in the community. This inclusivity can enrich the travel experience and provide a more well-rounded understanding of the local culture and community. 

When you support small businesses, you’re not just buying a product or service – you’re supporting someone’s dream and helping to build a stronger community. Every sale makes a difference to them and their families, and your support is very appreciated. Supporting small businesses also helps to promote sustainability, as many small businesses use eco-friendly and locally-sourced products. And let’s not forget the unique and personal touch that small businesses offer. 

Now, in the interest of transparency, I don’t always shop local. I’m not a purist in much of anything, really. It’s not my style to live a life of absolutes, and I don’t beat myself up when I walk into a big chain grocery store to buy things. Shopping local when you travel should be a choice depending on your personal situation (where you are, what’s your budget, what are you looking for and where is it sold, etc.). There are so many factors that impact why someone may or may not have chosen the local option. However, if the circumstances are right for you, seek out local small businesses and support them. Whether it’s a small café, a local craft shop, or a family-owned grocery store like mine, your support can make a huge difference. So next time you’re traveling, think about the impact that your purchases can have on the local community and consider supporting small businesses. 

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